Thursday, November 27, 2008

Five for fighting: The five worst Leaf goons

Over the years, the Leafs have had their share of entertaining tough guys. Tiger Williams and Tie Domi are two of the all-time greats, and guys like Ken Baumgartner, John Kordic, Craig Berube and Wade Belak all had their moments.

But you can't win them all. And if you're one of the guys below, you couldn't win any of them some nights.

In honor of Andre Deveaux's debut, and the inevitable flood of goonery that's about to start as a result of Brian Burke's arrival, let's take a look back at the five least effective Leaf enforcers.

#5 - Greg Smyth

Here's what I remember about Greg Smyth: I remember the trade that brought him to Toronto in exchange for cash(!) being announced during a mid-week Leaf game on Global TV. I remember him having hockey hair and a pornstache. And I remember he had two stints with the Leafs, once in 1993 and again in 1996.

That's it. I have no recollection of him ever doing anything with the Leafs. At all.

Neither does youtube, apparently, so here's a clip of Smyth fighting Bob Probert:

#4 - Nathan Perrot

Perrot was a minor league tough guy who had enjoyed a brief stint in the NHL with Nashville before the Leafs acquired him and assigned him to the AHL. He played a half season in Tornto in 2003-4, not doing much, and made the team in 2005-6. However, Perrot's claim to fame in Toronto is his (alleged) refusal to fight Brian McGrattan. That lead to the veteran Domi feeling obligated to step up, which didn't go well for him.

Perrot never played another game for the Leafs, who shipped him to the Stars for a late-round pick a week later. Oddly enough, he was reacquired by the organization in 2007 and played a handful of games with the Marlies, but never made it back to the NHL. He's currently in Russia.

Here's Perrot doing what Leaf enforcers do best: feeding Chris Neil.

#3 - Kevin McLelland

Remember when Kevin McLelland was one of Wayne Gretzky's bodyguards in Edmonton? He was a pretty good enforcer back then. A few years later, when he wound up with the Leafs in 1991... not so much.

Here he is taking on Mike Peluso. I'm using this clip because of the bonus clip at the very start.

#2 - Ryan Hollweg

He's terrible.

When Ryan Hollweg isn't trying to cripple guys with cowardly hits from behind, he's busy viciously attacking opponents' fists with his face. Here he is doing what de does best (bleeding) against Michael Rupp of the Devils.

#1 - Kevin Maguire

Maguire made his debut with the Leafs in 1987, then went on to establish a name for himself in Buffalo. He was perhaps best known for trying to fight Steve Yzerman, which isn't a good idea when Bob Probert is on the ice. (Watch the whole clip, and compare Probert to Stu Grimson's reaction to the Clark/Marchment fight. This is the difference between a guy who wants to fight, and a guy wants to look like he wants to fight.)

Maguire wound up back in Toronto in the early 90s, where he briefly formed a tag team with McLelland that gave opposing tough guys the chance to brutally beat up two Leafs on the same night.

But he earns top spot on the list based on this:

Yes, that's Maguire fighting Wendel Clark in practice.

I mean... what would have to... how could you ever think that...

Are you fucking insane?

It's never a good idea to fight Wendel Clark, but at least guys who played for other teams had some sort of obligation to try. There was something vaguely admirable about seeing another team's enforcer challenge Clark, willing to take one for the team even though he knew he was about to die.

But when Clark is your teammate, and you still try to fight him... you, sir, are the dumbest man in the history of time. That kind of stupidity is more than enough to earn top spot on this list.


  1. I was really hoping to see Paul Higgins on this list, but I guess that's a different definition of 'worst'.

  2. What kind of drugs do you have to take to make trying to fight YOUR TEAMMATE Wendel seem like a good idea?

    Also, Probert looked like he would have stabbed Maguire if he could have. Big different from the Simpering Reaper.

  3. Love the commentary on #1, well said as always DGB.

    Though I gotta say, Ryan Hollweg has no place on this list. He's no more an enforcer than Darcy Tucker. Hollweg is a buzz-saw shit disturber who has to answer the bell more often now without Colton Orr nearby. Early season ...eagerness... aside, for a little guy he hits like a mack truck. In today's NHL (no hit league) that goes a long way with me.

    Case in point, the video you uploaded shows him getting absolutely fed by a twice-his-size Michael Rupp. What it doesn't show is Hollweg leveling Zack Parise flat on his ass moments prior. Rupp responds by skating in, Hollweg gives the body language (when he could have ducked), and they go.

    Yes, little Ryan Hollweg got filled, bloodied and embarrassed in front of his home crowd, and sported a 2-week shiner to boot. But he did his job.

    Maybe I'm so starved of this sort of willingness that I'm lionizing Hollweg unnecessarily.

    Actually there's no 'maybe' about it, I totally am.

  4. Correction: The video _does_ show the hit on Parise, and the game looks like it's in NJ. Leave it to me to mix up my facts in the middle of a rant.

  5. I totally forgot about Smythe! With that 'stache he looked like an extra from a Kevin Costner Western.

  6. I like the way Maguire basically has the prototypical Wendel Clark fight:

    - starts of trying to establish position, fails miserably: check!

    - decides to desperately throw wild punches instead: check!

    - winds up facing in the wrong direction at one point: check!

    - eventually just completely gives up and goes limp, hoping linesman will save him: check! (although in this case he's out of luck on the linesman part)

  7. Perrot's refusal to fight led to Domi taking the worst beating of his life, and really showing that he was "done." I don't think I'll ever really forgive Perrot for that. Bastard.

  8. I feel like Nick Kypreos should get a dishonourable mention

  9. Did anyone else notice that in the perrot fight the commentator got his rights and lefts mixed up at 0:13?